I couldn't wait for the Stanley Cup playoffs to begin and at the end of the first week of games, the playoffs haven't let me down.
The games have reminded me how much I enjoy watching hockey. I seemed to have forgotten that while suffering through the Sabres season. A bad team playing games that meant absolutely nothing killed my hockey taste buds. But thankfully they've come back.
Watching the playoffs has reminded me how much I miss the Sabres being a part of them. As stressful and tense as these games can be, there's no post season like it in my opinion. But we haven't experienced it here in Buffalo for three straight years.
The other day, I was thinking about the last time the Sabres were in the playoffs(2011) and sadly it brought back the memory Ville Leino's overtime winner in game six. I thought for sure the Sabres were going to win that series after Tyler Ennis' OT winner in game five gave them the 3-2 series lead.
Imagine if someone would have told you right after that game that the Sabres would go on to lose that series, miss the playoffs each of the next two years, become the worst team in the NHL, fire Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier and trade away Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. You would've looked at them like they were crazy, right?
I digress. Back to these playoffs which involve a number of Sabres who were on that last playoff team.
There are 16 former Sabres and one former head coach going after Lord Stanley's Cup. So who are you rooting for? For me its easy. I'd love to see Miller win the Cup so that means St. Louis is at the top of my list. I'd put Vanek second on the list and Ruff third although that might be hard for some Sabres fans to handle. You might not be angry that Ruff won the Cup elsewhere but does it have to be with Dallas? Dallas is the city that prevented Lindy from hoisting the Cup with the Sabres and they kept us from celebrating a Super Bowl championship, twice!
Since I'm rooting for Miller, I've been targeting the St. Louis-Chicago series and its been extremely entertaining. Miller's .914 save percentage through the first two games isn't eye popping but he made a number of key saves in game one to keep the Blues within one goal, allowing them to tie the game late. He also made a game saving stop late in the second overtime.
Nice to see Steve Ott is up to his old tricks. He had a two handed slash at the back of Jonathan Toews' legs in game one.
That series turned ugly on Saturday when the Hawks Bryan Bickell went knee on knee on the Blues Vladimir Sobotka but that paled in comparison to Brent Seabrook slamming his shoulder into the face of David Backes. It was a double hit for the Blues captain whose head snapped back thanks to the hit from Seabrook and it crashed back into the glass.
The NHL has suspended Seabrook for three games but they should have thrown him out for at least the rest of the series and probably longer than that. That is exactly the kind of hit the NHL says it wants to take out of the game but the league talks out of both sides of its mouth. If they really wanted to take that hit out of the game. then suspend Seabrook for the remainder of the playoffs and for at least the first 20 games of next season.
I've never been a fan of the idea that a player should be suspended for as long as the player they injured is sidelined, but if Backes is out for the rest of the series and Seabrook is back for a possible game six and seven, it doesn't seem fair.
For those of you who aren't excited about the Sabres having the second pick in this year's draft and worried that this year's class of prospects isn't considered one with "franchise players", just go watch the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avs are being led by 18 year old rookie forward Nathan Mackinnon who has one goal and six assists in their two wins over Minnesota. Mackinnon has been dazzling fans with his skating, stick handling skills and vision. Mackinnon was taken first overall in last year's draft and while no one was saying he was a "generational player", Mackinnon had a great rookie season and is elevating his game in the playoffs.
You can also check out Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog who has three goals in the first two games after being second on the team in scoring during the regular season. Landeskog was taken second overall in the 2011 draft.